Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper said the PLP is looking to win all five seats on Grand Bahama in the election, despite the clean sweep the Free National Movement pulled off in the May 2017 poll.
He said, however, to do that, the party must get into “fighting shape” and start moving immediately as the road to the next election begins now.
He also told Grand Bahama residents that though he likes that Pineridge MP Fredrick McAlpine has been very vocal against his own government, he must eventually decide which political party he is a part of.
As he rallied PLP supporters during a joint branch meeting for Pineridge and Marco City in Grand Bahama, Cooper said, “Let me ask y’all in Pineridge, how your MP doing?
“You think he could help you?
“I like to call him an unofficial member of the opposition.
“I like McAlpine, you know. I cheer him on in the House.
“He like to throw some heavy blows. But what confuses me, is these his people he fighting.
“He put the FNM on y’all, Pineridge.
“He used to be a good PLP you know, but he let someone fool him.
“Now, I don’t know what he is. But I tell you what, at some point, he need to figure it out.
“You have to know if you PLP or FNM. You can’t be half pregnant.”
McAlpine has continually castigated the government over its decisions.
Last May, he said he did not regret criticizing the government’s work in recent months and noted that he would continue to be critical of the Minnis administration despite a caution from Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.
Pointing to the government’s mishandling of the controversial $5.5 billion Oban Energies project proposed for East Grand Bahama, the “bad deal” negotiated for the purchase of the Grand Lucayan resort and the overall state of the economy of the island, Cooper berated the Minnis administration over its treatment of Grand Bahama since coming to office.
Cooper said the Minnis administration likely hoped the last defeat at the polls would have silenced the PLP, but the pain from that loss was short-lived.
“I realized, and the leader realized on election night, that defeat lasts but a night. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning,” Cooper said.
“The road to recovery, the road to victory, started the next morning.
“Like I said, they don’t have to tell Chester, ‘get ready’, because I’m ready now.
“And Hubert Minnis and the FNM know that we’re ready.
“They maybe thought that the PLP would roll over and die and feel sorry for itself and just stand by while Hubert Minnis and the FNM and the five FNM Grand Bahama MPs who have already lost the confidence of so many on this island, just neglected to do its duty.
“The devil is a liar. Don’t believe for a second that the PLP is out of this fight.”
Cooper urged party supporters to get ready for the next general election, whenever it is called.
“I came to Grand Bahama last year and I explained to you that the future of the PLP starts now,” Cooper said.
“And I’m telling you tonight, the road to 2022 starts now, if you just getting in gear.
“I’ve been on it from May 2017, just like I told you tonight.
“If we want to win the next election, we have to stay in fighting shape.
“That means getting interested in nation building in creating a vision for Grand Bahama, and in holding Hubert Minnis and this FNM government to account.
“…Hubert Minnis and the FNM screwing up will only take you so far.
“People need to know we have better ideas and better ways to execute them than this crew.
“We need to know who we are as a PLP.
“We need people to know what we stand for: empowerment, education, ownership, making sure the most vulnerable aren’t left behind.
“That’s who we are and we need to own it.”
Cooper urged the party to start naming candidates now, outline its administrative priorities in government now, update its constitution now, build its branches now, start fundraising now and refurbish its brand now.
“The road to 2022 starts now,” he said.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications